UEL Playoffs: Antony strike hands Manchester United win over FC Barcelona
Red Devils progress past Barcelona after comeback
Manchester United secured their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Spanish league leaders FC Barcelona at Old Trafford. The Red Devils handed the Spanish side a first defeat in 19 games to reach the Round of 16.
Following an entertaining 2-2 draw in the first leg in Barcelona last week, both in-form sides were looking to make it into the knockout stage proper of the competition in the second leg.
Manchester United asked the first question of the match after only three minutes as Casemiro played in Bruno Fernandes with acres of space ahead of him. The midfielder saw his shot easily saved by the leg of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Barcelona took the lead nearly against the run of play in the 18th minute after Bruno Fernandes was deemed to have tugged on the arm of Alejandro Balde in the Manchester United penalty area. Robert Lewandowski stepped up and scored the spot-kick despite David De Gea getting a glove to it.
The visitors dominated proceedings for most of the first half and Manchester United were left holding onto dear life at times.
At half-time, Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag sent on Antony in place of the ineffectual Wout Weghorst in search of increased attacking impetus.
Manchester United wasted no time in the second half as they found a leveller within two minutes of kick off. In the face of sloppy passing from the Barcelona players in front of their box, the Red Devils picked up the ball and Bruno Fernandes played a pass inside to Fred, who had enough time to fire a right-footed effort past the despairing dive of Ter Stegen.
The Red Devils looked like the better side from there on, and turned the game on its head in the 73rd minute. After shots from Alejandro Garnacho and Fred were blocked by Barcelona defenders, the ball fell into the path of Antony and the Brazilian winger guided a side-footed volley into the bottom corner of the net.
Manchester United held on for an impressive win, taking their unbeaten run at home to 18 games. The Red Devils will be in the draw for the Round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League.